Catastrophic Oil Spills

Oil Tanker Ship Spill

FIGURE 6-5 The "midsize" oil tanker Ventiza, built in 1986. It is 247m (811 ft, or 2.7 U.S. football fields) long and 41.6 m (136 ft) wide. In 2000 the largest tanker in the world was the Jahre Viking, which is 458m (1504ft, or 5 U.S. football fields) long and 69m (266ft, or 0.89 U.S. football field) wide. From http://www.rigos.com/ventiza.html. Also see color insert.

FIGURE 6-5 The "midsize" oil tanker Ventiza, built in 1986. It is 247m (811 ft, or 2.7 U.S. football fields) long and 41.6 m (136 ft) wide. In 2000 the largest tanker in the world was the Jahre Viking, which is 458m (1504ft, or 5 U.S. football fields) long and 69m (266ft, or 0.89 U.S. football field) wide. From http://www.rigos.com/ventiza.html. Also see color insert.

major impact on the local environment if the oil reaches the shore. Catastrophic spills will occur less frequently if more double-hulled tankers (vessels having a 9- to 10-ft buffer area between the two hulls) are used. If an accident perforates the outer hull, there is a reasonable probability that the inner hull will not be breached and no oil will be released. Federal legislation passed in 1990 requires oil tankers proceeding between two destinations in the United States to have double hulls and mandates the removal from service of single-hull tankers over 25 years old. There has been an upsurge worldwide in the use of double-hulled tankers. This increase is probably due more to the potential for costly ligation resulting from an oil spill than to the laws passed by the U.S. Congress. There has been a decrease in the amount of oil spilled since 1984 (Figure 6-6; see also Table 6-1).

Oil tankers and other big ships have been identified as a major source of air pollution. These ships burn high-sulfur fuels that release large amounts of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NO*) as well as particulates into the air. The EPA plans to regulate these emissions, but international agreements will be required to enforce any such regulations.

As noted earlier, oil spills on land are more readily contained and are usually a less serious environmental problem than those at sea. One notable exception

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FIGURE 6-6 Oil spills over 10,000 gal (34 tonnes) since 1968. The major oil spills decreased in the 1984-1998 period. The 240 million gallons deliberately released in Kuwait during the Gulf war was the principal contributor to the total amount spilled in 1991. Redrawn from D. S. Etkin, International Oil Spill Statistics: 1998. Cutter Information Corp., Arlington, MA. Copyright © 1999. Used by permission of Cutter Information Corporation.

FIGURE 6-6 Oil spills over 10,000 gal (34 tonnes) since 1968. The major oil spills decreased in the 1984-1998 period. The 240 million gallons deliberately released in Kuwait during the Gulf war was the principal contributor to the total amount spilled in 1991. Redrawn from D. S. Etkin, International Oil Spill Statistics: 1998. Cutter Information Corp., Arlington, MA. Copyright © 1999. Used by permission of Cutter Information Corporation.

TABLE 6-1

Oil Spills In Order of Amount Spilled"2

1. 26 January 1991: terminals, tankers; 8 sources total; sea island installations; Kuwait; off coast in Persian Gulf and in Saudi Arabia during the Persian Gulf War (240.0)

2. 03 June 1979: Ixtoc I well; Mexico; Gulf of Mexico, Bahia del Campeche (140.0)

3. 02 March 1990: Uzbekistan, Fergana Valley (88)

4. 04 February 1983: platform no. 3 well; Iran; Persian Gulf, Nowruz Field (80.0)

5. 06 August 1983: tanker Castillo de Bellver; South Africa; Atlantic Ocean, 110km northwest of Cape Town (78.5)

6. 16 March 1978: tanker Amoco Cadiz; France; Atlantic Ocean, off Portsall, Brittany (68.7)

7. 10 November 1988: tanker Odyssey; Canada; North Atlantic Ocean, 1175 km northeast of St. Johns, Newfoundland (43.1)

8. 19 July 1979: tanker Atlantic Empress; Trinidad and Tobago; Caribbean Sea, 32km northeast of Trinidad-Tobago (42.7)

9. 11 April, 1991: tanker Haven; Genoa, Italy (42)

10. 01 August 1980: production well D-103 (concession well); 800 km southeast of Tripoli, Libya (42.0)

(continues)

TABLE 6-1 (continued)

11. 02 August 1979: tanker Atlantic Empress; 450 km east of Barbados (41.5)

12. 18 March 1967: tanker Torrey Canyon; United Kingdom; Land's End (38.2)

13. 19 December 1972: tanker Sea Star; Oman; Gulf of Oman (37.9)

14. 23 February 1980: tanker Irene's Serenade; Greece; Mediterranean Sea, Pilos (36.6)

15. 07 December 1971: tanker Texaco Denmark; Belgium; North Sea (31.5)

16. 23 February 1977: tanker Hawaiian Patriot; United States; Pacific Ocean 593 km west of Kauai Island, Hawaii (31.2)

17. 20 August 1981: storage tanks; Kuwait; Shuaybah (31.2)

18. 25 October 1994; pipeline: Russia; Usinsk (in area that was closed to foreigners before collapse of Soviet Union) (30.7)

19. 15 November 1979: tanker Independentza; Turkey; Bosporus Strait near Istanbul, 0.8 km from Hydarpasa port (28.9)

20. 11 February 1969: tanker Julius Schindler; Portugal; Ponta Delgada, Azores Islands (28.4)

21. 12 May 1976: tanker Urquiola; Spain; La Coruna Harbor (28.1)

22. 25 May 1978: pipeline no. 126 well and pipeline; Iran; Ahvazin (28.0)

23. 05 January 1993: tanker Braer; United Kingdom; Garth Ness, Shetland Islands (25.0)

24. 29 January 1975: tanker Jakob Maersk; Portugal; Porto de Leisoes, Oporto (24.3)

25. 06 July 1979: storage tank tank no. 6; Nigeria; Forcados (23.9)

^Number in parentheses refers to millions of gallons spilled. Source: excerpted from D. S. Etkin, International Oil Spill Statistics: 1998. Cutter Information Corp., Arlington, MA, 1999. http://www.cutter.com/oilspill

was the flooding caused by Hurricane Agnes in 1972, which resulted in the release of 6-8 million gallons of sludge and oil from storage tanks in Pennsylvania.

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